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Can dress-down days work every day of the week? The recent shift in uniform trends in the workplace has been a hot topic in the news for the past few years. In a post-Covid world, people’s priorities have shifted away from the starched and crisp-white corporate dress codes. Instead, they have been opting for a more relaxed approach. This means the focus can now be on an employee’s output level rather than how they present themselves.

If you are interested in implementing a more casual uniform in your workplace, you may need clarification on the best way to do it. A casual dress code can boost employee morale, promote positive self-expression and help people feel more comfortable during their work day. Learn everything you need to know to remove the confusion around casual dress codes and successfully introduce a more relaxed uniform to your workplace.


What is a Casual Uniform?

The word casual is subjective, so what is deemed ‘casual’ by one person may be considered smart or more relaxed by another. As you can see, it is easy to get caught in a grey area regarding casual work uniforms. One thing is for certain; however, casual attire is a far cry from shirts, ties, and skirt suits of the corporate world. Traditional office uniform is categorised as a business professional and often requires smart black shoes and, in most cases, high heels and makeup for women. But, expectations in the workplace have been shifting, and it is quickly becoming widely accepted to wear more casual clothes to the office.

Casual vs Business Casual

If you want your workplace to adopt a more casual dress code, it is essential to establish the extent to which you want it to be. There is quite a significant difference between casual and business casual attire. So, if you want to avoid your employees turning up to work in sweatpants and a hoodie, then you need to be able to specify the level of formality you are looking for. Casual workwear includes jeans, slacks, casual trousers, t-shirts, sweaters, and trainers. Graphic t-shirts or slogans are also considered acceptable casual attire. Business casual, however, refers to polo shirts and turtle necks, pullovers, smart trousers, and shoes. Trainers and t-shirts should be avoided, along with bright colours and bold logos.


Why Are Businesses Moving Away From Strict Uniforms?

According to a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, it was estimated that 50% of companies have decided to adopt a more casual dress code, which is an 18% increase from their previous 2014 survey. So, what has been responsible for this increase? The past three years have seen a considerable shift in how businesses function. The Coronavirus pandemic meant that many employees were required to work from home, so they no longer had to dress for the office. However, once businesses opened their office doors again, strict corporate uniforms were no longer a priority.

During the pandemic, workers had unintentionally taken part in an experiment. Are productivity levels directly affected by what you wear? The previously perceived answer to this question was that smart ‘professional’ attire led to greater productivity from staff. But, it is now understood that this is not the case. In fact, there appears to be no link between the level of output and attire. This change in views on corporate workwear seems to have positively affected workers worldwide. Spending less time worrying about what to wear makes people feel more relaxed in their work environment. It gives them extra time outside of work to do things that matter to them, such as an extra hour in bed.


The Benefits of a Casual Uniform

If you are still undecided about whether or not to take a more casual approach with your business’ uniform, it is helpful to understand some of the benefits you will gain from doing so.

  • Allowing staff more freedom in their clothing choices boosts morale
  • It can attract new and younger potential employees to your workplace
  • It doesn’t present any extra cost to the business
  • It helps to create a space for self-expression and diversity
  • A more relaxed dress code can improve employee work-life balance
  • If employees feel comfortable in their clothes, they’ll feel more comfortable in their workplace


How to Successfully Implement a Casual Uniform

If you are interested in shifting from formal businesswear to a more casual approach to clothing, there are several steps you can take to ensure that you do casual workwear the right way. Implementing anything new may require trial and error before you can get to where you want to be. These key steps will help reduce confusion, remove grey areas, and ensure that staff feels content, confident and comfortable in their new uniform.

Clearly Outline What You Don’t Want Employees to Wear

A casual dress code can liberate employees and allow self-expression. Still, the downside is that the guidelines can be more specific. If you wish to implement a casual dress code in the workplace, then you need to be clear about what is unacceptable attire. Rather than try and describe what you do want, it is often easier to establish what you don’t want people to wear—for instance, no torn clothes, sweatpants, or inappropriate graphic t-shirts.

Start With a Dress-Down Day

If you want to ensure you get things right with your new casual uniform, why not try it out first? Dress down Fridays are a longstanding feature of many office work weeks, and they can be an excellent way to start implementing your new dress code. It can be a helpful way of seeing the kind of clothing your employees consider casual and whether it aligns with the sort of uniform your and for the business.

Make Sure Your Uniform is Inclusive

Opting for a more casual office uniform can transform your business by boosting the comfort and productivity of your team. Not to mention you won’t have to spend hours ironing shirts anymore! Giving people more freedom with their clothing can be great so long as the uniform caters to everyone’s needs. Make sure your new uniform policy encompasses all body types, religions, and genders.

Opt For Branded T-shirts With Your Company Logo

If you are worried about distracting from the business with a more casual uniform, then you don’t have there are other options. Incorporating branded t-shirts, polo shirts, and even jackets can encourage people to relax while still putting their best foot forward for the business.

Stick to Smart For Business Meetings

Some businesses opt for casual uniforms for day-to-day work but dress more formally if they have important meetings or interact with people outside the company. This ensures that you are perceived by potential clients and customers while allowing staff the freedom to be more relaxed around the office.

Make Blanket Rules For Everyone

It can take time to establish clear-cut rules regarding casual workwear. For it to work, you must set clear rules that apply to everyone. For instance, a no-sweatpants rule lets employees know what is appropriate. So, if someone turns up to work in sweatpants, they must be told it’s unacceptable.

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